Astros’ roster: Diamonds in the rough, hidden gems


As every year springs eternal for teams with a 0-0 record, so, too, it is the fertile soil for dreams yet unmet and the rekindling of fires that once burned bright.

The Astros have a few of those hidden gems on their roster this season, lurking in the wings and hoping to get a shot — or another shot — at a spot on the opening day roster.

Whether they turn into actual diamonds are not remains to be seen, but here are some who could fit the bill.

Alex White. 25. RHP.

  • Lest you forget, the former #1 pick made the starting rotation out of spring training last year, then went down with a season-ending elbow injury. He had Tommy John surgery last April 11, so may not be ready to break camp with the team. When he’s healthy, though, the 25-year-old should be a strong candidate to join the rotation at some point.

Peter Moylan. 34. RHP.

  • A non-roster invitee with an unusual side-arm motion who throws in the mid 90s. He’s had some dominating games and, when you look closer, he has some interesting possibilities. He made 14 appearances with the Dodgers in ’13 and had great results in all but two of those outings. Sure, gotta fix those road bumps, but in 38 appearances at AAA, finished with a 2.74 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and allowed just one HR. Yes, it’s AAA, but worth watching this spring.

Kevin Chapman. 26. LHP.

  • Sure, he pitched in 25 games for the Astros last year, but it’s easy to get lost in a sea of pitchers. He came over from Kansas City in the Jason BourgeoisHumberto Quintero trade (2012). As the musical chairs plays out this spring, he’ll need to significantly cut down his BB/9 to find a seat, but other indicators are strong.

Brent Strom. Pitching Coach.

  • The Astros’ new pitching coach needs to develop into a gem. Just sayin’. This could be the most important off-season acquisition as he takes over the incubator for one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. Can’t have any foul-ups along the way with arms like Mark Appel, Mike Foltynewicz, Jarred Cosart, Lance McCullers and other showing up on the radar soon.

Max Stassi. 22. C.

  • He’s only 22 and doesn’t show up on Baseball America‘s radar, but could be worth watching this spring. As I’ve suggested before, he could set a chain reaction into motion with a good spring, perhaps forcing the Astros to reconsider whether Jason Castro moves to first base or DH.  While he projects to be above average defensively, he did make the jump from AA last year, which also means he may need more seasoning. Keep an eye on.

While there are many other young prospects in the system who could be gems, these are a handful of those that outsiders or even lukewarm Astros’ followers might notice at first glance.

See any others on the 40-man roster or non-roster invitee list who might grab your under-the-radar attention.

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24 comments on “Astros’ roster: Diamonds in the rough, hidden gems

  1. Chia Jen Lo. He’s had the fewest minor league innings of anyon on the roster because of injuries. Has a great fastball and when he’s on he has been good. Had rookie jitters last season because of his lack of seasoning but was still kept on the 40-man, so I think he is highly thought of and is an ultimate sleeper for the bullpen. If he continues to develope command, his ceiling is as a MLB closer.

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  2. One “diamond” in the rough, is Brett Oberholtzer. This kid showed me he has some awesome stuff, in the short time he was in the rotation last year. I look for him to really blossom under Strom.

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  3. Nice discussion starter Chip.

    Rudy Owens – This is more of a question than anything – any word on whether he has recovered from injury. He was excellent for Pittsburgh’s AAA club before being traded here and then he was hurt.
    If recovered he could surprise.
    Josh Fields – if you look at his overall numbers you probably say Yuck! But he pitched very well from mid-August to the end of the season in late inning appearances.
    Matt Dominguez – might be a cheat – but I am hoping that the development we saw with him in the second half of the season at the plate is just the start for Matt.

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    • He should have resolved that issue behind clubhouse doors. And maybe he should have made sure everyone was dressed 15 minutes beforehand if he really wanted to be on top of things. First dumb press address of the year by our skipper.

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    • I have no problem with this being aired out in public. This is a lot different than throwing your player under the bus for not making a play in the field, missing a sign, etc. If players aren’t focused and treating this like a job…you know, being professional…they need to be called out.

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  4. I’ve been high on Stassi since watching him play in CC last summer. He’s already a better catcher than Castro. And he’s strong with quick hands. Pitchers will be throwing the ball away to him. If he learns some patience he’ll assault balls in the strike zone plate and turn on mistakes inside. I think he’ll be a 25 homer backstop one day pretty soon.

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  5. It did not take Porter long to go to the press to do his discipline for him. Airing the dirty laundry should be an exception but it seems to be his go-to move.

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    • Airing dirty laundry publicly can alienate your players. Alienating players could lead to losing their respect. Losing their respect could lead to losing a lot of games. Losing a lot of games can lead to losing your job. Don’t air your dirty laundry publicly.

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  6. Let’s hope Bo Porter isn’t going to go Cooper on us, by his dissing the guys to the media…….that will lose your clubhouse in a New York minute

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  7. Just one quibble – White lost the race for #5 starter to Peacock out of spring training last year. He was very strong until the last few outings. He had won a bullpen spot until being diagnosed with the injury. I still think he could be a good starter for us. He was dominant in college.

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      • I don’t know his personal situation. If he let the club know ahead of time that he was going to ship his belongings on Wednesday and spend the day with his girl on her birthday and fly in on the dday he was supposed to, I don’t have a problem with that.
        The fact he went to winter ball to work on his game is proof that he is dedicated to improving, so I am willing to look at the fact he has done what he was supposed to.

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  8. Back to the original topic of this blog……….one of the other diamonds in the rough COULD be Matty D. He hit 21 hr’s last year, and if he can duplicate that, and add a couple of more to it, we might have just found a bonafide gold glove 3rd. baseman. He might even become the winner of the Carlos Lee trade. And along with Matty D. I agree with dave_b on Stassi. Although I haven’t gotten to “see” him on T.V. or in person, he
    has had a lot of praise heaped on him, I’m excited to see how he does this year.

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